Sunday, January 13, 2019

The Oldest Line of Violin Makers in America

by Andy Fein, luthier at Fein Violins,
and Ivana Truong

The mid-1500s is very early in violin making history. The earliest violins, violas, and cellos still in existence were made by members of the Amati family circa 1540. So, usually, when we think of very early makers of violins, violas, and cellos, we think of Italy, Germany, and France. To that category of early makers should probably be added The Tarahumara or Raramuri, as they call themselves.
Tarahumara violin, made in the late 1800s, in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Berlioz, A Snuff Box, and a Requiem. It's Pretty Fantastic!

By Andy Fein, Luthier at Fein Violins,
and Ivana Truong

File:Berlioz conducting.jpg
A cartoon of Berlioz conducting, originally captioned "Fortunately the hall is solid... it can stand the strain!"
Hector Berlioz, like many composers, was pretty crazy. In between composing masterpieces, he even almost murdered his ex-lover  (and her fiance and her mother!) while cross dressing as a maid. (You can read the full story on our past blogpost here)

But besides the murder-suicide plots, he was also pretty paranoid. So while the truth is questionable, here is a story from his memoir, of how his famous Requiem, the "Grande Messe des Morts," was almost sabotaged at its premiere.

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Your Brain on Strings

By Andy Fein, Luthier at Fein Violins,
and Ivana Truong

Music unifies us, it's enjoyable, and as it turns out, beneficial to our health. A review of 400 studies done by Professor Daniel J. Levitin suggests that music can increase the quantity of certain antibodies and immune cells. After just 50 minutes of listening, participants had increased levels of antibodies. Interestingly, depending on music preferences or genre, the effect changed. Listening to happy, dancing music caused more of a boost than a random playlist of songs.

Monday, November 12, 2018

Goffriller Cellos. For Cellists- Goffriller > Stradivarius?

By Andy Fein, Luthier at Fein Violins,
and Ivana Truong

We've written several times about Stradivari's cellos. As beautiful as these instruments are, many are not in their original condition. Stradivarius made BIG cellos for much of his life and most of those big cellos have been 'cut down' to make them more playable for a modern concert cellist.
Amit 10.jpg
Amit Peled on "Pablo", Pablo Casals'  1733 Goffriller
Matteo Goffriller, worked in about the same period as Stradivarius (1670s-1742, for Goffriller; 1670s -1737 for Straidvarius), but made a number of smaller cellos throughout his life. An uncut 1728 Goffriller cello has a back length of 757mm, as opposed to the 794mm of the Lord Aylesford Stradivarius. However, Goffriller's instruments vary greatly since he made every instrument to order. His cellos are smaller or larger, and made from better or worse quality materials depending on who it was made for, what type of sound they wanted, and how much they were willing to pay. Ahh, some things never change!

Monday, October 29, 2018

All About Tailpieces- Long, Short, and Fine Tuned

By Andy Fein, Luthier at Fein Violins
and Ivana Truong
with comparison videos by Diane Houser and Megan Scott
A Schmidt Harp Style tailpiece made from Pernambuco

Tailpieces do far more than hold your strings on to your instrument. And then there's the BIG question of how many fine tuners to use, if any. One? Two? Four? None?

What sounds best? Or- does it affect your tone and playability at all?

Pernambuco tailpiece with four fine tuners made by Bois d'Harmonie